In a press conference this weekend, a group of house Republicans led by representative Joe Wilson announced a forthcoming bill which would place a three day waiting period on becoming mentally ill. The bill has the support of the NRA and has been praised by many gun-rights advocates as a common-sense step towards decreasing gun violence.
The bill would introduce a procedure whereby any American seeking to become mentally ill would have to announce their intentions to local law enforcement. From the time of their decision, citizens would then have to wait a full 72 hours before actually becoming mentally ill, giving law enforcement and local support systems plenty of time to prepare to deal with the issue.
Representative Wilson says this bill could help prevent most, if not all, of the gun violence which has plagued our nation for years.
“We’ve known for a while now that America has a mental health problem disguised as a gun problem.” Said Wilson. “Well, it’s time we start taking concrete steps to help fix this.”
Later in the press conference, Wilson elaborated on the reasoning behind the bill, saying that people need to better understand the impact that becoming mentally ill can have on their lives.
“This waiting period might not be the perfect solution, but I think forcing people to sit and really think about whether or not they want to become mentally ill could help a lot of folks.” Said Wilson.
NRA President Wayne LaPierre has thrown the full weight of the NRA behind the bill already. In a written statement to the press, LaPierre said that this was an important step towards preventing future gun violence in this country.
“It would be too difficult and expensive to attempt to regulate guns through legislation, so we must begin to regulate mental illness.” Said LaPierre. “It’s time to start keeping mental illness out of the hands of people who could cause harm with it.”
Not everyone is excited about the new effort to impose regulation on mental illness, though. Eric Fontaine, a mental illness rights activist, says that the government has no business coming between a person and any mental illness they might want. Fontaine says the bill, “… would place an undue restriction on my ability to become mentally ill. What if I’m at a mental illness show and I decide I want to come down with schizophrenia right away? I shouldn’t need to get the government involved in that transaction, I should just be able to decide to hear voices and then start hearing them right away.”
“Besides,” Fontaine added, “Most mentally ill people are law abiding citizens. It doesn’t make sense to punish all of us just because of a few bad apples.”
While the bill would be a major step forward for mental illness regulation, some are already complaining that Congress must do more. Steve Winthrop, a mental illness regulation advocate, said that he wants a universal background check for anyone seeking to become mentally ill.
“We need to make sure that the people becoming mentally ill aren’t convicted felons, violent offenders or, even worse, mentally ill.” Said Winthrop.